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2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV REVIEW

Edmunds.com logo Edmunds.com 12/6/2016

Pro: Strong V8 engine is never at a loss for power; capable of towing up to 8,100 pounds; cabin remains quiet regardless of road conditions; seating for up to eight passengers

Con: Less refined ride quality than some other luxury SUVs; sheer size requires careful maneuvering in tight quarters; high cargo floor makes loading baggage difficult; infotainment interface isn't always intuitive

Interior: If you're going just by the numbers, the Escalade ESV's interior is pretty great. Interior quality, though, especially compared to high-dollar rivals, isn't. The Escalade has a pleasant interior, but for buyers in this segment that may not be enough.

Able to tow 8,100 pounds and capable of carrying eight passengers, the Escalade is one of the most utilitarian luxury vehicles you can find. The ESV's massive cargo space helps you haul quite a bit of luggage as well.

Body: The 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV is a large luxury SUV available in four trim levels: base, Luxury, Premium Luxury and Platinum. The base trim comes with a dizzying array of equipment, but the Premium Luxury and Platinum take this big, plush American machine to a whole different level.

The base trim, as you probably expected, is generously appointed both inside and out. Standard gear includes the 6.2-liter V8 engine (420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet), an eight-speed automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive (four-wheel drive is optional on every trim), 20-inch wheels, an adaptive suspension, LED headlights, automatic wipers, front and rear parking sensors, automatic parallel and perpendicular parking assist, a hands-free power liftgate, remote start, tri-zone automatic climate control, a heated, power-adjustable tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, heated and ventilated power front seats, driver-seat memory settings, heated rear seats and split power-folding third-row seats. Standard electronic features include the CUE infotainment interface (with an 8-inch touchscreen), OnStar (with 4G in-vehicle Wi-Fi), a surround-view camera system, a customizable instrument panel, a navigation system, and a Bose 16-speaker audio system with satellite radio, five USB ports and an auxiliary audio jack.

For a few more driver aids and a bit more plush equipment, you can step up to the Luxury trim that adds 22-inch wheels, a sunroof, automatic high beams, power-folding second-row seats, a head-up display, a camera-based rearview mirror system (the rearview mirror is actually a screen displaying what the camera sees behind the vehicle), a blind-spot monitoring system, lane departure warning and intervention, rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning and mitigation (with automatic braking), a safety-alert driver seat that buzzes to warn of potential hazards.

Our recommended trim, the Premium Luxury, hits the sweet spot with the above features plus adaptive cruise control, a rear entertainment system with a Blu-ray player and two overhead-mounted displays, adaptive cruise control, and a more advanced collision mitigation system with both forward and reverse automatic braking.

The most expensive (and most lavishly appointed) Escalade ESV is the Platinum trim level. It certainly has all the bells and whistles, but you may not need all the extras it provides. The Platinum adds power-retracting side steps, upgraded power front seats (with massaging function), upgraded leather upholstery, a cooled front-seat center console and two more rear entertainment screens (mounted in the front headrests) with individual display capacity for viewing multiple videos when your passengers just can't decide on one.

Driving: The 6.2-liter V8, with its 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, is the star of the Escalade ESV show. Paired with the six-speed automatic, the big V8 has power to spare. But there's no denying the ESV's size and bulk.

The Magnetic Ride Control suspension helps the Escalade manage its heavy 22-inch rims. This does not, however, mean the ride is polished and well-isolated. Expect truckish behavior on anything less than a glass-smooth surface.

There's a surprising amount of response and confidence on twisting roads, but because of sheer size and weight, the Escalade ESV's limits are quite low. Seat bolstering isn't up to the task of twisty roads or quick freeway exits either.

What’s New: For 2017, Cadillac has given the Escalade ESV a new optional, camera-based rearview mirror and an automatic parking assist system that can partially steer you into perpendicular and parallel parking spots. Mechanically, the 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV carries over unchanged.

The big, 420-hp V8 has tons of torque, which helps give the Escalade easy and effortless acceleration. A regular Escalade we tested accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, and the ESV is likely just a few tenths slower. It also makes a great V8 rumble along the way.

Despite its size, the Escalade is exceptionally easy to drive. The eight-speed transmission and 6.2-liter V8 make a good pairing.

Edmunds Say: An undeniable presence on the road, the 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV meets a very specific list of requirements. Need to carry lots of people? The ESV can haul up to eight passengers. What if you want your luxury SUV to stand out from the crowd? This bold Caddy is one of the most stylish you'll find. And maybe you've got plans for an Airstream trailer? No problem; the Escalade ESV can tow up to 8,100 pounds, thanks in part to its traditional body-on-frame construction and strong V8 engine. Finally, the ESV's longer wheelbase (compared to the standard Escalade) provides 10 additional inches of legroom and more than 25 additional cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats folded.

Unfortunately, the Escalade ESV's ride is a bit rough because of those truck-based underpinnings and massive wheels, so it isn't the most comfortable vehicle in the class. Some rival crossover SUVs are easier to live with and get better fuel economy to boot. But if you need the kind of capability the 2017 Cadillac Escalade ESV provides, it's worth a close look.

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